Commission on Teacher Credentialing continues progress on PK-3 Early Childhood Education Credential

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing held a packed three-day meeting June 15–17 in which it “endorsed” key aspects in the development of the PK-3 Early Childhood Specialist Credential. The commission also received updates on the implementation of Senate Bill 488, the legislation directing the replacement of the current Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) with a new literacy performance assessment by 2025, and progress on determining what degrees demonstrate subject matter competency, among other business.

PK-3 ECE Specialist Credential moves forward — tentatively

Action items on the agenda included staff recommendation for the adoption of the PK-3 Early Childhood Education Specialist authorization statement, credential requirements, teacher performance expectations (TPEs) and program standards with any modifications suggested by the commission to be addressed in regulations brought back for consideration at the August 2022 meeting.

Staff explained that extensive input from multiple communities of interest has been collected since the April meeting, resulting in changes and streamlining in both the proposed credential requirements and how candidates with relevant ECE preparation and experience could move through the credentialing process. There is a need to provide a meaningful, rigorous and feasible bridge between separate licensing approaches of the Child Development Permit structure and the Multiple Subject Credential structure and recognize candidate’s earned wisdom and knowledge in the field. Thus, multiple pathways are being created for a variety of candidates from a variety of backgrounds to move forward as expeditiously as possible.

Staff reported that another result of the additional input gathered is modifications to the TPEs — which describe the set of knowledge, skills and abilities expected of a beginning teacher — particularly with respect to emphasizing the value and inclusion of play-based activities, both child-led and teacher-facilitated; collaborative two-way partnerships with families/guardians; differentiated instruction; and supportive and interactive positive child–teacher relationships.

Public comment heard from those both for and against a standalone PK-3 credential, with a representative from the California Teachers Association commenting that the organization does not support a standalone credential but could support restructuring the current ECE Specialist Credential to create a PK-3 specialization of the Multiple Subject Credential. In response, Commission Chair Tine Sloan said, “There are still a few questions around the exact structures that we might come up with in terms of how this works.”

Many public commenters from the ECE field discouraged the commission from adopting the current program standards and TPEs, saying the work has been rushed and needs more robust development in early childhood pedagogy, citing the 24 units of childhood development coursework as not being enough.

Chair Sloan noted that the units do not encompass all a candidate will learn. “It’s not just 24 units of childhood development coursework, but the teacher preparation program for earning this credential would also carry an early childhood education focus on pedagogy and curriculum standards and how you work effectively with PK-3 students,” she said.

CTC Commissioner and CSBA President Susan Heredia cited the need for funding for new preparation programs to take on this work if the credential is approved. She compared the scope of what needs to be done with an unfunded mandate. “We need to look at the allocation of new monies for faculty for this endeavor,” she said. “It’s like a school district and unfunded mandates — to fund a new mandate, you have to begin to cut other programs. I don’t want to see that happen here.”

Realizing there was still much to be discussed and worked on, the CTC voted to “endorse” the work happening on the PK-3 Specialist Credential in concept, with revisions based on the feedback to be presented at the August meeting.

Senate Bill 488 update

SB 488 requires the commission to update its standards for the preparation of teaching candidates for reading and literacy instruction, review teacher preparation programs progress in meeting updated standards, and develop a new literacy performance assessment to replace the current Reading Instruction Competence Assessment (RICA) by 2025. The commission approved the transmittal of the first annual report of progress to the Legislature.

Since the enactment of the RICA statute 25 years ago, the K-12 ELA/ELD Framework was updated significantly and adopted by the State Board of Education and the California Dyslexia Guidelines were published. These updates impact candidate assessment and preparation to teach reading and develop literacy. To meet the needs of all California students, the program standards and performance expectations for teacher preparation with respect to reading and literacy instruction, as well as corresponding candidate assessments, must be updated.

An SB 488 Literacy Workgroup has been formed and includes a broad base of constituent and literacy experts, including CSBA Education Policy Analyst Angela Asch. The workgroup will make recommendations to commission staff regarding needed updates to program standards and TPEs in response to SB 488 for Multiple Subject, Single Subject, ECE PK-3 Specialist and Education Specialist preliminary credential candidates. The workgroup first met in May 2022.

Following the June workgroup meeting, a field review of the draft program standards and TPEs will be conducted. Staff will analyze this review and present draft program standards and TPEs to the commission as an information item at the August meeting. The final drafts are expected to be presented for potential adoption at the October meeting.

Subject matter competency

The commission approved the draft regulations for acceptable majors that would meet the subject matter competence requirement in Education Code sections 44259 and 44310 that were created by Assembly Bill 130. Three new options include completion of an academic degree major from a regionally accredited institution of higher education that matches the credential area being sought, completion of coursework from a regionally accredited institution of higher education that is aligned to the Subject Matter Requirements (SMRs) for the credential being sought, or a combination of coursework aligned to the SMRs and qualifying examination subtests.

Although approved, the commission engaged in a thorough discussion on the short timeline to determine what constitutes subject matter competency and the time-consuming nature of transcript review that would need to be undertaken by teacher preparation program faculty. Commissioners discussed the possibility of a centralized function and the need to work with the state to build more capacity and structure around the process. “We need to avoid creating new barriers,” Sloan said. Staff will present the permanent regulation change package incorporating feedback in a future meeting.

In a related item, the commission approved the extension by one academic year of the suspension of the preconditions that require student teacher candidates to demonstrate subject matter competence prior to daily whole class instruction. This extension applies solely to candidates in a student teaching/residency pathway who are admitted to a credential program for the 2022–23 academic year. Reasons for the extension include reports from some preparation programs that candidates are still experiencing difficulty scheduling exams and reports from preparation programs that they need additional time to more efficiently and effectively implement the new options for candidates to demonstrate subject matter competence as described above.

In other commission business:

  • Michelle Perrault, Plumas Lake Elementary School District trustee, former CTC commissioner (2016–21), and executive director of communications for Roseville City SD, was appointed to the Committee of Credentials.
  • Adopted the CalTPA (California Teaching Performance Assessment) for the Mild to Moderate Support Needs (MMSN) and Extensive Support Needs (ESN) credentials for operational administration in October 2022.
  • Approved transmittal of a report to the Legislature examining whether assigned teachers’ existing certificates, permits, or other documents adequately address the needs for noncore courses (not reading, math, social science or science) in all schools. Staff noted that noncore misassignments were less prevalent than in core courses and that there are proportionally more misassignments in noncore settings at charter schools than in traditional schools. Misassignments were most prevalent in electives such as home room and study hall, with physical education representing the second highest number of misassignments.